Educate Your Community About the New Healthcare Law
Prior to the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, more than 50 million Americans had no health insurance. Tens of millions more were underinsured. Another 129 million Americans could not get insurance due to pre-existing conditions. This MLK Day, help your community learn about the important features of the new health care law, how it will address some of these issues in the coming years, and its effect on members of the community.
This toolkit will help you to address this community need by:
- Explaining associated terms
- Highlighting helpful resources
- Sharing effective planning steps
- Outlining project management tips
- Providing ideas for communicating your message
- Sharing tips for reflection and reporting
Learn Associated Terms
Before you jump-start the planning phase of your project, be sure you know the terms associated with the work you are about to do.
- Affordable Care Act: In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. The law makes preventive care—including family planning and related services—more accessible and affordable for many Americans. While some provisions of the law have already taken effect, many more provisions will be implemented in the coming years.
- Health Care Marketplaces: For individuals and families, the Health Care Marketplace is a single place where you can enroll in private or public health insurance coverage under the ACA. For small employers, the Marketplace is a way to level the playing field, where you have better choice of plans and insurers at a lower cost, the way larger employers do now.
While some states are implementing state-based Health Insurance Marketplaces, others are participating in federally-facilitated Marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act.
Open Enrollment in the Marketplaces will take place from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. Individuals and small businesses will be able to compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs.
- HHS: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
Browse Helpful Resources
Identify a Location
Identify places where people live, learn, worship, or play such schools, houses of worship, community or recreation centers, colleges and universities, and libraries, and ask them to partner with you on a project to increase awareness about the health care law and its effect on members of the community.
One or more of these locations may be the ideal place to host your event. Select a location that is easily accessible via public transportation or within walking distance of the people you are trying to reach.
Gather information about the health care law. The best website for consumer resources on the ACA is www.healthcare.gov, which includes:
- A list of health insurance coverage options
- Guidance for individuals, families and businesses to apply, compare plans and enroll
- Answers to the most common questions about the ACA
- Customer service representatives, available via online chat or by dialing 1-800-318-2596
The best online site for ACA outreach materials is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website. This website includes:
- Multimedia demonstrations
- Widgets, badges and logos
- Materials for special populations and information in Spanish
- Answers to frequently asked questions about the Health Insurance Marketplaces
- Opportunities to explore research on the Marketplace
- The latest news and events
- Information for consumers who have recently enrolled in health insurance about next steps “from coverage to care.”
Customized resources for American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes may be found on tribalhealthcare.org. This website includes resources for consumers, health care directors, tribal employers, and tribal governments.
Additional ACA educational materials, including PowerPoint presentations, brochures, fact sheets and videos can be found on the HHS website. These materials are customized for various racial and ethnic population groups, seniors, young adults, women, people living with disabilities, small business owners and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.
A successful group effort requires a motivated team whose members agree upon clearly defined tasks, set reachable goals, and act with inspiration and purpose.
Build a Team
- Start off planning with folks you know, and ask them to tell others to join your efforts.
- Meet regularly, especially as MLK Day approaches.
- Assign concrete tasks to keep everyone motivated and on track.
- As you work, talk about the parallels between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s impact and your own.
Build your planning teamWhether you are a team of few or many, a planning team will help you execute all aspects of your project. Below are some roles your planning team can take on. If it’s only you: reach out to volunteers past and present to fulfill these roles:
- Project Development
- Volunteer Recruitment and Management Team
- Communications Team
- VIP/Leadership Engagement Team
- Fundraising Team
- Event Team
- Set goals, such as number of people trained, items supplied, and folks pledging to pass along what they've learned to others.
- Record these goals and make sure you can meet them. Ensure you and your team choose goals you can all agree on.
Plan Your Project
There are a number of ways that you can plan to promote the new healthcare law in your community. Here are a few ideas for planning tasks to complete:
- Determine how you will share this information listed in the resources section above. Will you have speakers, booths, distribute the materials at community meeting places, go door-to-door, or some combination of strategies?
- Consider inviting a Champion for Coverage organization that is helping with education in your state, a Community Navigator organization that is connecting individuals and families with the new options in your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace, or a Certified Application Counselor organization that works with the uninsured to help them understand their new health coverage options.
- Order or print materials based on your target audience. Will you need materials in languages other than English?
- Will anyone require accommodations to participate? Will you need a sign language interpreter?
- Depending on the size of the venue, consider setting up tables and inviting others with important information to share with your participants.
- Incorporate learning into any service you do by sharing information about the issues your project addresses and about Dr. King’s work and teachings as it relates to the issue.
Raise Resources for Equipment and Supplies
Involving and engaging kidsWhether kids show up to volunteer or they unexpectedly arrive with parents who can benefit from your service, have activities that they can do such as:
- Carry light objects
- Decorate cards, lunch bags, or placemats
- Serve refreshments to the adults hard at work
- Organize or tidy the project spaces
- Watch a film about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- See Engaging Kids in Service for more on kid-friendly service projects.
What supplies will you need to promote the new healthcare law in your community?
- Seek financial and in-kind donations from businesses for the supplies you'll need to run your project
- Solicit funds from team members and/or others to purchase items you need for successful MLK Day
- Purchase the necessary supplies prior to the service day so they're ready to go on MLK Day.
Manage Your Project
Think about implementing the following tasks to manage your new healthcare law service project. These resources and ideas will help you complete a successful event.
- Utilize to do lists for the days leading up to, day of and post event day.
- Make sure team leaders or coordinators are at the site early, the site is set up, and they are ready to greet volunteers or community members as they arrive.
- Officially welcome everyone and talk about the purpose of the event: informing the community about the new healthcare law in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Organize volunteers into different work teams. For example, have different people greeting participants, handing out refreshments, responding to questions, or distributing materials.
- Build moments of reflection into your planned activities. Share stories and words from Dr. King and about any insights you've gained so far about the connection between your service and Dr. King’s teachings.
- Document the day and be sure to have volunteers sign a photo release form.
- Conduct your event, offering continuous encouragement to participants.
Communication is a key part of any service project. You will need to communicate about:
- Getting volunteers to help you plan or implement your service activity
- Building partnerships with potential collaborators or sponsors
- Raising funds or in-kind donations for your project
- Informing potential participants who might benefit from your service
Publicize your event using a combination of low-tech outreach, traditional, and social media.
- Post flyers in public places
- Use community bulletin boards
- Ask area businesses to spread the word (e.g. flyers at registers or posters in store windows)
- Make announcements at schools, churches, or civic groups
- Invite the news media (print and broadcast) to report about your upcoming event or to attend and share information about accomplishments. Use a press release or a media advisory.
- Make follow-up phone calls to the news media
- Place free ads in the community affairs section of your local papers
Digital and Social Media
- Submit your event to local online calendars and LISTSERVs
- Promote your project, and document the day, through Facebook, Tweets, and pictures
- Reach out to a local blogger and ask if he/she might cover the event
Assess and Reflect
Host an official debriefing meeting for team members after the service day. Ask the team to reflect on the following questions:
- Examine the goals you set for yourselves. Which ones did you meet? Which exceeded your expectations? And which goals did you not quite reach?
- What did you accomplish?
- Who did your work impact in your community?
- What went well and what could be improved for next time?
- What new healthcare law resources or outreach methods would you use again in the future? Which ones would you forego?
- Consider what doing this work on MLK Day, in particular, meant to your community.
- Go back to your initial investigation into the local problems you elected to help tackle and ask more questions. For example:
- If you distributed information about the new healthcare law to members of your community, what supplemental information or services could you provide them, beyond the day of service that would help them along the path to a healthier life? What other organizations or programs could you partner with to make this happen?
Share Your Story
We know you might not like to brag, but please do! You may inspire others to organize a new healthcare law information event once they hear what you accomplished. Share your service accomplishments with:
- Volunteers, financial and in-kind supporters and constituents groups; the accomplishments could accompany a thank you letter
- The media; thank all media who reported on your planned activities or covered you service project along with sharing accomplishments from the project and any plans for the future
- The Corporation for National and Community Service; learn about multiple ways to share your story